Let me start with a question. So how the food that we consume on everyday basis is cultivated?
I am sure most of us already know the answer. We have seen farmers cultivating these on their fields and later it will be processed and sent back to us in ready to cook form. So what are other ways to cultivate? Why we need another way of growing crops?
Let’s get into this in more detail.
Food genetics plays major role in fulfilling the needs of ever growing population. Scientists around the world are working hard to make changes in the plant breeds and also the way it should be cultivated. Almost all heard BT Cotton and BT Brinjal which is famous for high yields and ruled the market for few years.
Why Food Genetics?
Our current food production systems needs to be expanded and should be modified in such a way that it meets up the need of ever rising human population. Traditional farming works very well when nature supports the farmers. But, most of time we are hit with nature’s calamities like drought, flood and many other varieties of insects which harm the production level of the food and such things strike’s farmer’s life in hardest way possible.
Food genetics is needed not just to improve the yields but also to expand the way food can be cultivated. It is also necessary to design the new models for cultivation. A model which is different from traditional farming. New model which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduces environmental impacts, and maximize the nutrients and recycle the nutrients in the system. So in short, we need a sustainable model for agriculture.
Today, soil is not rich with nutrients level. Nutrients getting reduced with the amount of fertilizers being used and with the way farming is carried out. Not only is that, insecticides and pesticides that are being used are causing lot of pollution. Even pests and insects have become resistant to the insecticides and pesticides.
With food genetics, dependency on soil can be reduced by growing the agriculture products with predefined nutrients values. Gene therapy is widely used to provide nutritional demands. Aquaponics is the one of the best used methods to meet the nutritional demands by reducing the dependency on the soil. Now, with Aquaponics plants are cultivated on the water and also at the same time growing aquatic life like fishes, shrimps and other organisms. Widely fishes are used.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is just the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics!. Very simple isn’t it??
In layman language: you are planning to grow plants on water and at the same time you are growing aquatic life like fishes, shrimps and other microbial.
Let’s understand Aquaponics in detail.
Aquaculture is the breeding and farming of aquatic organisms, such as fish, crustaceans, and aquatic plants, usually for human consumption.
In Hydroponics, Nutrient Rich water is used to grow plants. Growth requirements of plants are measured in prior and nutrients are added to nourish the plants. Normally, Plants need mainly three nutrients known as NPK. N stands for Nitrogen, P stands for phosphorous and K stands for Potassium. So, Plant needs other minor nutrients along with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in major. These essential nutrients are provided by synthetic fertilizers that are being used in the water channel.
So In Aquaponics both these techniques (Hydroponics+Aquaculture) are used in such a way that both are benefited from each other. Over here, you grow fishes separately and plants separately. Separate grow bed is created for growing plants and fish tanks are created for growing fishes. But, both these environments are interconnected in such a way that nutrients are provided from fish tanks to grow beds and filtered water is given as input to the fish tank. So this will recycle on regular basis.
Simplified steps are here on how Aquaponics work?
- Fish provides nutrients through its excretion. This excreted waste contains nitrogen in ammonia form along with potassium and phosphorous.
- Fish Tank gravels and sidewalls contains nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria is known to convert the ammonia first into nitrites and then to nitrates.
- The water in the tank, which contains ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphorus, potassium, and other micro-nutrients, is continuously pumped into a grow bed
- Plant uses these nutrients to grow and purifies the water.
- Now, Cleaned water is then sent back to the fish and fish uses the same to grow healthily.
Finally, let’s quickly understand Advantages of Aquaponics System
Using Aquaponics, we get food for people. Means, you grow vegetables using water and also grow fishes in fishpond. Of course both needs to be done in systematic way and with some training to start with. Both products are highly useful and highly nutrient.
Aquaponics doesn’t lead to environmental pollution. This uses closed system and when done in correct way, this will give only positive results. This also doesn’t need more water, as same water will be recycled across both systems. So this can be carried out wherever sufficient water is available. Over here, dependency on rain and soil is reduced.
This is sustainable food production system, using aquaculture and hydroponics hand in hand can give great results to mankind. It has few limitations like, initial training is mandatory, initial investment in building both closed systems, fishes needs to be rotated and fish food is also needed at times. But, results seems to be overwhelming.
So let me know how you feel and what are your thoughts?